SONATA CONCERTATA A QUATRO / BAUTISTA: Secondo Sonata Concertata a Quatro. TURINA: Piano Quartet in a min. REMANCHA: Piano Quartet / Trio Arbós; Rocío Gómez, vla / IBS Classical 42013
This Trio Arbós CD features the talented piano trio with guest violist Rocío Gómez playing piano quartets by three Spanish composers. The opener is the most modern in style; written by Julián Bautista (1901-1961), it won the International Chamber Prize of Brussels. As they put it in the notes, it is rather Stravinskian albeit with a Latin tinge. Bautista varies the tempo, alternating between various time signatures, providing a driving rhythm in the first movement with unusual stresses on offbeats. The second movement has “rootless” chords and is more impressionist in its demeanor, almost slightly sinister despite the long lines for the strings. Later on in the movement, Bautista used falling chromatics that played against the development of the theme in an effective manner. The last movement is perhaps the quirkiest, alternating both themes and tempi in a strange route to the finish line along with more descending chromatics.
Predictably, the Turina quartet is late-Romantic with themes that sound Andalusian to me. Turina wrote for the strings to play at times in unison, which created a richer sound than one is accustomed to from a piano or a string quartet. The first movement thus sounds, at times, like a miniature piano concerto. The composer also made effective contrasts of dynamics and tempo in the first movement, while in the second (“Vivo”) is more like an allegro, with sweeping themes informed by Andalusian folk melody. The third and last movement opens with a sweeping violin solo, followed by the piano playing solo for several bars before the rest of the quartet comes in, again playing like a string section.
The quartet by Fernando Remancha (1898-1984) lies somewhere between the other two in terms of style. There are indeed elements of Neoclassicism as promised in the notes, but its progression is more informed by a development of the lyrical themes; the Stravinskyisms occur primarily in the use of harmony. Here Remancha alternates the lyrical with the rhythmic, giving a fairly extended solo to the piano while the three strings play a repeated 15-note rhythmic motif above it. In another passage, the three strings play in counterpoint with one another. In the second movement, Remancha also plays with counterpoint, only in a slower mode, and here his lyricism comes more to the fore—albeit with shifting chord positions underneath it.
In the third movement, written in a lively 6/8, Remancha uses the bouncing rhythms of the piano as a springboard for the energetic string figures that ride above it. Once again he has the pianist vary the beat so as to continually keep the listener on his or her toes. A little before the three-minute mark, he reverses this, giving the rhythmic figures to the string trio while the piano spins out its own variant.
This is yet another wonderful album by this extraordinary trio. Regardless of the period of music they play, it’s hard to resist their enthusiasm.
—© 2019 Lynn René Bayley
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